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Hospitably speaking

Dilip Sinha, General Manager, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Honeywell, talks with Hannah Jo Uy of Climate Control Middle East on how integrated solutions can help the hospitality sector reduce energy consumption and enhance customer experience through smart control of cooling systems…

| | Nov 30, 2017 | 10:56 am
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Could you comment on Honeywell’s perspective on how innovative technological solutions, whether pertaining to control systems of HVAC solutions or building design and development, can help advance sustainability goals of the hospitality sector?

One of the key and unique aspects of Honeywell is that we are not only able to provide standalone solutions, we can also provide complete and integrated solutions, so you can manage the infrastructure even with bigger projects, bigger buildings and bigger facilities. So the advantage of providing the standalone and complete integrated solution is [customers] are able to monitor what’s going on in the building from the safety and security point of view. Secondly, with our products, such as the end-vision software tool, clients can monitor what kind of energy is consumed at various points in the building or facility.

This way you are able to not only monitor but also take steps [to better manage operations] in a way that you are able to save energy. Looking at BMS, which is one part of the integrated system, one way it can help is through monitoring of humidity and temperature and control of the air flow. These are all the touch points where the energy is consumed. If you have less people, you don’t need a lot of air or cooling; it should be able to accordingly adjust. In short, it reduces your energy consumption, when it is not required and you can get significant amount of energy savings.

For hotels, both the productivity and operational cost are important. They determine the profitability of a hotel property. Through Honeywell, we have guest room controls. Not only does it offer exceptional guest experience from the time they check-in to the time they check-out, it also provides high level of efficiency in energy-management services.

As an example, there are always two or three things happening. One, the light can be on all the time, even when the guest is not there, or your air conditioning can be on, or it can be completely off, as well. If it is off, this is also not a good thing, because when the guest checks in and when he enters the room, it will take quite a while for the room to [adjust and] have a good environment, especially with summer temperatures here reaching between 46 to 48 degrees C. To have a better customer experience and manage efficiency, [the system] is able to control the temperature to suit the guest’s convenience.

The second important [feature] on the dashboard is that you are able to look at the complete occupancy of every room. You can manage your centralised control system, where you are getting information on energy consumption, be it lighting, water pumps, air conditioning or compressors, and control them. Once you are able to control them, you are actually controlling the use of additional energy that is not [otherwise] required. You are optimising its use, and that’s what leads to greater savings in energy cost, and your carbon footprint is reduced. So, all these system are good for [better] Return of Investment (RoI), productivity and sustainability. At the same time, it is also important to [ensure] guest comfort and experience and [this is one way] one property can differentiate itself from others. 

Do you see a move among hospitality sector to implement such measures to promote more sustainable practices? Is this an effort to align itself with the environmental targets of the UAE? Or do you believe the movement is owing to the cost that is associated with high energy consumption?

About 5-10 years ago, people had already started thinking and doing something about it. However, I think today it is becoming a very important subject, both from the customer’s point of view and the operator/owner’s point of view.

More and more, we are seeing luxurious and bigger hotels. Because of the high cost that comes with the building of these facilities, a lot of attention is being paid to guest experience, energy saving and sustainability. I feel that today they are more well-versed and aware of these technologies and that the technology is being adopted more and more today as we are moving forward.

Such technologies do exist that help streamline operations and practices in a more energy-efficient manner. In your opinion, are relevant stakeholders truly aware of these tools or should more educational campaigns be made to increase awareness on its potential?

There is a positive move forward. Obviously, there is no perfect world. We have to keep educating the designers, installers and operators about the technology that is available. Technology is also getting updated. For example, when we talk of guest room controls for hotels, we talked about luxury hotels, where it’s being adopted even more. [In such cases] even the aesthetic part becomes very important.

For any other commercial building, I would say it depends on the type and usage of the building. Energy savings and sustainability are key parts of any design. The design aspect of the building automation or integrated solutions, from the safety, security as well as the energy points of view, is important. 

While such measures are recognised as having a veritable impact, can you comment on how proper maintenance and operation of such systems must also be implemented to ensure these systems are properly working, as designed and expected?

To provide a medical example, when one goes for heart surgery, post-care is equally important as a good and successful operation.

I think that here, we are talking about two things. One is operation and maintenance efficiency and how you are able to manage [the systems]. Also, equally important is what type of building automation system or BMS you installed. Have you installed systems that have a propriety technology? Some systems do not have scalability.

What we have seen is that either something has gone wrong in the design [stage] or you install a system which, once you try to change it, the cost is significant. Additionally, if you want to expand the building and you bring third-party equipment, this existing system cannot communicate, because the protocol is different. So, you have to have systems that are first, scalable and expandable when the new systems come. Secondly, they should be able to communicate. Thirdly, they should have the right software tools that will provide you with the information to make it easier to maintain and operate the system.

[What is also important is the] right choice of the company and right choice of the technology. All the big companies are making good products and solutions, but how many of it is open? The communication part is very important, because monitoring systems can see the occupancy and energy usage in different rooms [in addition to providing] guest experience. It’s important to select and install the right systems at the design time. That will make it much easier. 

Should designers and consultants be more forthcoming with integrating smart systems prior to the design or earlier in the design stage?

For any smart building or town, I think this is something that should be a part of the design philosophy from the beginning, then it makes life much easier. Then again, it also depends on the budget and cost and on what developers or the owner of those properties want. If they want you to be smart, you have to be smart from the design criteria, because you are not just talking about the BMS, you are talking about a number of other touchpoints and sensitive sensors and equipment all around. They all have to be IOT-enabled. They should be able to talk and communicate with major systems, and all this should be incorporated at the design stage.

Secondly, the project manager and consultant should make sure that what they have designed is really reflected at the time of execution and that there is no mismatch in the different systems that have been installed. They should all be able to communicate and talk, and have good dashboards and monitoring capabilities.

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